Hang Ten: A Taste of Dutch Leisure with Benjamin

Benjamin Aerts is unlike your standard 20-something. Born in Holland to a Dutch Father and Zimbabwean mother, the trans-continental dweller spans across the globe and across jobs as model, stylist and bon vivant. For this series of Field Notes, we managed to take a bit of time from his busy schedule for answers to this quick-hit feature.

Describe your relationship with the outdoors in three words.

  • Not, often, enough.

When you’re in the city how do you define leisure and what do you do with your leisure time?

  • Leisure for me is probably being able to hang out with people that I love. That usually makes me most happy. In summer one of my favourite things to do is find a nice spot and go swimming all day. Carefree summer days with loved ones are my favorite.

"I used to have a bit of an outdated view of nature seekers, but this has changed quite a lot." 

How are the outdoors depicted in Amsterdam? How do you feel as a person of color outdoors in The Netherlands. 

  • I think most people in Amsterdam do see themselves as city dwellers and for a people that do love to spend most of their time outside, the outdoors aren't as often depicted as you think it would be. Although I have realized that more and more people I know have opted for a life outside of the city. Amsterdam and The Netherlands are very small of course, it is very easy and quick to reach nature if you'd like. In the city you have "net Amsterdamse bos" which basically means the forest of Amsterdam. This is quite a popular spot, and personally, I love going there. The Netherlands is a very safe country and overall this is something that I do feel. I do find forests at night time to be quite daunting, but I think that has to do with my penchant for watching horror movies.

In the U.S the outdoors are often depicted as hyper-masculine within most marketing and media. Do you also feel that this is the case in Europe?  What’s your perception of nature / leisure seekers? 

  • I do think in Europe this isn’t entirely the same, I think here there is a bit more of a unisex approach. I, and I think I can speak for a lot of other people, used to have a bit of an outdated view of nature seekers, but this has changed quite a lot, as it now has become a greater part of my life too and lifestyle brands are more and more incorporating this in their lines.

Are you seeing any outdoor trends that we should be keeping an eye out for? With the recent designer and outdoor recreation collabs, we would love to hear your thoughts on  these capsule collections from a stylist’s POV.

  • I think leisurewear as a whole is becoming more important, especially in The Netherlands you could say that comfort is in ;) I too am sort of leaning to items with ‘gear-like’ features and mixing that with more chic kinds of items. 

Freelance hours are unpredictable, scattered, a bit erratic. How do you manage to always maintain your cool and keep structure throughout the week? Any tips to help our readers stay centered?

  • Do I look like I maintain my cool? Then those acting classes I took in highschool surely paid off! But jokes aside, basic things like makings lists and staying in contact with friends always make me feel more centered, especially when I start to feel a bit overwhelmed. 

We know you love New York (you’ve got the words “Big Apple” emblazoned across your Knee Caps)! Any spots you miss in particular?

  • Oh so many places! I would like to go back to MoMA or Guggenheim, shopping at the break or Totokaelo, eating a bagel at Frankel’s to name just a few.

With the world opening up, do you have any adventures for the near future? Near or far. 

  • For sure I will be going on a much needed holiday this year, and I am thinking of maybe Portugal or Southern Italy, most probably around September. And I am also busy planning a trip back to New York! 

We’d be remiss to not ask you for any style tips. Especially in staying chic whatever the terrain. When you’re packing your bag for an overnight trip, what can we count on to make the duffle?

  • In summer you will most probably find shorts, a pair of ballet flats and a twinset for when it gets cold in my duffle. I’ll probably also bring my extensive skincare regimen with me and I never leave the house without jewellery, no matter the weather or the terrain ;)  

What's your idea of #TimeWellSpent?

  • My favorite type of day would be a summer day where you meet up with a friend, you decide to go to the beach and there you spontaneously meet other friends, you spend the whole day swimming, later you decide to go out to dinner and end the day with going to a club.